In 1874 Oak Bluffs’ first presidential guest Ulysses S. Grant was responsible for putting Martha’s Vineyard on the map, so to speak, when newspaper headlines heralded the visit of the nation’s taciturn leader. Indeed, the Island’s famous favorite fireworks show was made so thanks to Grant’s viewing on Friday, August 28, 1874 during his three night stay on, ironically, Clinton avenue in the Campgrounds at Bishop Gilbert Haven’s cottage.

While he was here he exhibited only a single smile, and was quoted as having said only 126 words in public including his 25 words of welcome: “I thank you for your cheering greeting. No doubt you are tired and sleepy, as I am, so I will not detain you. Good night.”

The other eight visiting elected Presidents (so far, Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, John Adams, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, William Clinton and Barack Obama) were at least a tad more verbose, excepting perhaps Franklin D. Roosevelt who stayed aboard his sailboat during his trip.

This year, however, President Obama has managed to make this week the busiest and most electric yet for local

Oak Bluffs fans and admirers. In addition to the expected rounds of golf at Farm Neck, the first family delighted onlookers and workers at Oak Bluffs eateries with visits to the brand new Down Island restaurant, Ben Deforests’ Red Cat Kitchen at Ken & Beck, the Sand Bar, Giordano’s Clam Bar and dancing at Lola’s. Nancy’s is surely on the agenda before they leave.

The lasting halo of “the President was here” will surely have an economic benefit. A good deal of our 44th President’s popularity among Oak Bluffs denizens is how much he and the family enjoy it, as much as we do it seems. There seems to be continuing evidence that not only will they return when he’s left office but there is the likelihood that at some time soon you might be standing on line with him at Biscuits or Linda Jean’s.

Local shopkeeper and former selectman Todd Rebello was interviewed recently on This Week, ABC-TV’s Facebook page by two rookie, not quite journalists (one of whom called it Oaks Bluff) about the Presidential visit and deftly responded to baited political questions. Todd’s widely shared views were that in addition to the boost in our economy, if you’re from Oak Bluffs, “No matter what your politics are, when the President of the United States chooses your community it’s an absolute honor.”

Well said.

Howard University alumni celebrated their 10th Anniversary of Bison on the Vineyard this past week with a series of author signings, a golf tournament and beach outing at the Inkwell and a seminar on Saturday, August 20 at the Oak Bluffs Library. The Election Protection Seminar includes seven attorneys discussing the political landscape and starts at 10 a.m. and there is a White Party fundraiser later in the day. See the website, for more information about scheduled activity.

Oh yes, I’ve almost completed writing a book about black whaling captains. If that’s something you might be interested in, stop by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum on Monday at 5:30 p.m. for a presentation about the subject and some Island roots—so to speak. There’s a reception afterwards and admission is $8 for members and $12 if you’re not. You really should join.

Congratulations to Oak Bluffs’ Kathleen McGhee-Anderson who Oprah has named the new executive producer/showrunner for OWN TV’s Greenleaf, a family drama about a megachurch. You may remember Kathleen’s 2001 play at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Oak and Ivy, starring Mario Van Peebles about the love affair between Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore. You may not know that Kathleen received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts in 2005 from her alma mater Spelman in Atlanta and was executive producer of the fifth season of Soul Food, and the critically acclaimed series, Lincoln Heights, that received the NAACP Image Award for Best Drama in 2008. The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is on Comcast channel 105 and Greenleaf is about to get way better.

Full disclosure, of course I’m partial having been Kathleen’s co-writer for A Martha’s Vineyard Love Story, her first novel a couple of years ago.

Congratulations to Farm Pond’s sea monster Vanessa upon the birth of son Blaze, born August 16.

As the busiest week of our busiest month is punctuated by several parties, seminars and politically based events and fund raisers, enjoy the Oak Bluffs Fireworks Friday night. There’s a good chance America’s most popular President and family will be watching them with you—and again in years to come.

Keep your foot on a rock.

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